Nigeria’s House of Representatives has urged the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, (NCDC), to immediately brief the Joint Committees of the House currently investigating the dead fishes in Bonny and other Niger Delta coastal communities on their findings for necessary intervention of other relevant government agencies and further legislative action.
The House has also urged the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA , to provide necessary relief materials to the people of Bonny Island as an interim relief.
These resolutions among others were taken by the House following a motion that came under matters of urgent national importance by Hons Awaji-Inombek Abiante, Dagogo Doctor Farah and eleven other lawmakers.
Presenting the motion on the floor of the House, Hon Abiante recalled that in the last week of March 2020, there was an incidence of large quantities of dead fishes around the Bonny-Andoni shores and indeed several other communities in the Niger Delta region stretching up to Ondo and Akwa Ibom states, which has been brought before the House for urgent attention.
He told the House that less than 6 weeks later, mysterious deaths is occurring in Bonny Island in Rivers State and is reported to have claimed about 13 lives in a few days.
He said officials of the Rivers State Ministry of Health and NCDC, have collected samples in Bonny Island, Rivers State for testing to determine what is responsible for the strange occurrence which some defined the symptoms to include loss of the sense of smell, taste, fever, weakness, vomiting and stooling.
The lawmaker noted that these symptoms exhibited by victims are not exactly same as those of COVID-19. as it neither presents cough or respiratory issues.
He further noted that Bonny is home to Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited and various multinational oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell, Mobil, Chevron, Agip and Elf.
He alsi observed, that Bonny Island is a major export point for oil and it has the biggest LNG Gas Plant in Nigeria with six (6) trains, which is the main stay of the Nigerian economy.
Abiante said that despite Bonny’s significant contribution to the national economy, the Island can only be accessed via boats and ferries; and without a link road connecting it to other parts of the Rivers State and Nigeria and lacks adequate medical facility.
He expresses worry that due to the challenge of transportation and communication, it is usually difficult to get help or even access medical facilities in Port-Harcourt or other part of the gountry.
The lawmaker also expressed worry that if the health issue is not contained, it could affect the residents and workforce of the NLNG as well as the economy of the country and could also spread from there to other parts of the country especially in this era of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The House also called on the federal government to establish a Federal Medical Center in Bonny to carter for the medical needs of the multinational oli and gas workers and indigenes of the area.